Conflict and Limitation Can Be Good

We usually want to avoid conflict, and prefer to not have limitations, but how can conflict and limitation be good? I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Walt Disney would sometimes intentionally put two of his artists that he knew didn’t get along together on the same project, because he knew that out of the conflict, something really creative could result.

George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, often clashed with Gary Kurtz, producer of the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Kurtz left because of disagreements over Return of the Jedi. Most people agree that Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back are the best Star Wars movies.

In the original Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas also faced limitations with the special effects technology, the budget and studio management. The limitations forced him to come up with more creative solutions. In the prequels, Lucas had pretty much free rein in creative decisions, and unlimited possibilities with computer generated imagery, but a lot of fans like the original trilogy better.

I recognize that often my Disney work is made better because the art director would make suggestions and ask for changes. Sometimes I am cranking out the work under pressure from deadlines, or I am too close to the work to see what was wrong with it. Also sometimes, I didn’t want to bother making the changes, but when I think about it, usually it did improve my work. A lot of times, getting opinions from knowledgeable people will your make your work better, so don’t always think that criticism is a bad thing.

You might think that having your dream job is all fun and rosy, but sometimes it’s not. When I first worked for Disneyland, I was very enthusiastic and starry eyed, but some employees (Disney calls them ‘cast members’) told me that the magic wears off quickly. Of course there are people who maintain the enthusiasm. Conflict and limitation can force you to be more creative, and make whatever you do even better.

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